“I didn’t think this place could help me because I was really only addicted to my own misery,” Ruby F. shares while sitting in the Creative Matters office.
Born an “L.A. baby” to a “frequently absent” celebrity hairdresser mom and a “never lived up to expectations” lawyer father, Ruby grew up in a home with a special needs little sister and very little care for her own emotional and psychological needs. “I never had a typical childhood because I was so young when my sister was born and she needed a lot of attention,” she recalls. This lack of attention led Ruby to resent her sister, which caused her own guilt-ridden self-hatred. On top of that there were significant expectations for Ruby to be the “perfect child” since she didn’t suffer from her sibling’s perceived deficiencies. “There was a lot of pressure on me to perform and it caused me to rebel and act out,” she relates. And in her mind negative attention was at least some kind of attention, which she so desperately craved.
This cauldron of anger inside her was somewhat offset by the fact that she was a very smart child, who performed well in school, despite not giving much effort to her educational pursuits. However, no manner of scholastic achievement could mask the rage and misery that colored the balance of her childhood. Having already begun therapy at the tender age of eleven, due to diagnosed childhood depression, Ruby began self-medicating with marijuana at age twelve. “I was always smoking a lot of weed. I smoked alone at night to numb the pain and anger,” she recollects.
And by age seventeen she had added “21st Century narcotics” to her regimen of drug abuse to mollify her seemingly unyielding companions of anger and depression. “I remember looking in my medicine cabinet at all those drugs and saying to myself ‘if I don’t get better by age twenty-five I’m going to kill myself,’” she describes. However, around this time, a beacon of hope and light arrived in her life when, following high school, she enrolled at NYU to begin studying theater and the dramatic arts. She had finally found her calling and immediately immersed herself in all things drama and performing.
And along with discovering her passion for acting, she also fell in love for the first time while in school. “It was so amazing. I felt like I had found what had been missing my entire life,” she remembers with a smile. But despite the euphoria of that first brush with amorousness, when it eventually came to an end she felt her entire world had collapsed as well. “I had no idea of self-love or self-worth and I felt paralyzed to move on,” she laments. This eventually led to her first hospitalization, in, of all places, the geriatric ward at Beth-Israel Hospital, to finally help treat her debilitating depression. While there she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.” “I actually cried tears of joy when they told me because I finally had a name to associate with the cause of my pain and anguish,” she shares.
And because of her early introduction to therapy as a child, Ruby instantly took to the fact that there were specific therapeutic techniques to address her issues. Following the diagnosis, her parents sent her to the glitzy and pricey Clearview Treatment Center in Los Angeles. It was the best that money could buy because, as she relays, “my parents wanted me cured and they wanted a ‘pretty bow’ of Hollywood treatment to go with it.” Despite all of that, Ruby actually did greatly benefit from the experience. She began to unpack and address her childhood pain and resentments. “I was finally validated by people who understood the trauma I had experienced as a child,” she recalls. And she also got prescribed the appropriate medications to help manage her disorder.
Now twenty-three, Ruby went back to NYU to resume her studies. Less shackled by depression, anger and self-hatred, she began to blossom and thrive. “I was killing it. For the first time I was able to find myself and become my own person,” she recounts with a smile. And on top of her scholastic exploits, she also began to experience healthier and more affirming relationships. However, when she turned twenty-four another traumatic and challenging event occurred in her still very young life. Her parents finally divorced, which she actually viewed as a positive thing. Yet, what she didn’t expect was the radical and scarring transformation her father took on shortly after the dissolution of the marriage. “He met a new woman who didn’t like my sister or the amount of attention she required. So my father, who I was closest to as a child, abdicated his role as parent and decided he was going to start a new life and put fatherhood in his rearview mirror,” she says.
To put this soul-crushing event behind her, Ruby threw herself into work and over the next couple of years she served as a P.A. (Production Assistant) on several film and television projects. She also engaged in more drug abuse and regressed into getting involved in unstable relationships as well. Despite all of the personal tumult in her life, she did manage to power through her demons and thrive, starring in an off Broadway play and many other creative successes. But then she stopped taking her medications and, to add more instability to her already “hurtling out of control” life, Covid hit. “I felt like a failure with no direction. If dad couldn’t love me anymore then no one could,” she painfully remembers. Suicidal thoughts returned to her fragile and vulnerable mind as well.
At the end of her rope, and with no one in her circle of family and friends seemingly able to help, she turned to an acquaintance that mentioned Beit T’Shuvah. “Initially I laughed when I contemplated in-patient addiction treatment,” she recalls. And as mentioned earlier, she didn’t think she had a “substance” problem as much as a general malaise. Giving herself a self-proclaimed “30-day Max” she was admittedly despondent at her intake. “The first three days I tried to leave and then I met Asia. I couldn’t believe how much we had in common,” she intimates. It turned out not to be as much of a joke as she had initially thought. “I needed to have someone hold me accountable while in a safe and loving environment. This is the most supportive community-based place I’ve ever been,” she shares with her signature side grin.
She now interns working at the front desk and has started auditioning again. Having turned twenty-seven this week, Ruby concludes by saying, “My recovery looks very different from the majority of people here. But what I do have in common with everyone at BTS is that we all had something making our lives unmanageable and yet we’ve all been able to develop recovery plans to aid us in integrating back into the real world.” Now with a clear path forward and an invigorating jolt of creative energy and excitement returning to her artistic soul, Ruby can’t wait to take on whatever new role presents itself in the second act of her still unfolding play of life. And we all can’t wait for the curtain to rise. Bravo!